Irish offer versatile Johnson

Sophomore tight end Taariq Johnson landed an offer from Notre Dame last Friday. The Irish are recruiting the California athlete as a hybrid tight end/wide receiver.

Versatility has paid off for sophomore Taariq Johnson.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder from Augustus Hawkins High School in Los Angeles pushed his scholarship offer total to six on Friday when Notre Dame pulled the trigger.

“It’s a blessing; that’s all I can say,” Johnson said. “It’s a huge blessing.”

Notre Dame began showing interest earlier this spring.

Johnson visited South Bend last month when he was in Chicago for a 7-on-7 tournament. The Irish remained in close contact since that day trip.

“They wanted to look at my film and see me just a little bit more,” Johnson said. “They finally pulled the trigger on Friday.”

Irish assistant Mike Denbrock visited Augustus Hawkins High School and left word of the offer for Johnson and classmate Greg Johnson, a running back/cornerback. Notre Dame had already offered the school’s five-star wide receiver Joseph Lewis.

“Greg Johnson got the offer the same time I did so we both got the offer on Friday,” Taariq Johnson said. “They both like Notre Dame too but they all have their different standpoints.”

The tight end learned plenty about the Irish during his visit and already knew of the University’s academic reputation.

“The education program is something that stood out,” he said. “Education is something that is very high on my list and something that I look for in a college. I like it. It’s a great environment and somewhere I could see myself playing.”

During the trip, Johnson met Irish head coach Brian Kelly and developed his relationship with Denbrock.

“I liked coach Brian Kelly,” Johnson said. “I talked to him and coach Denbrock. He said he’ll keep in contact with me in the future.”

Johnson, who played behind standout prospects Iman Marshall and Juju Smith the past two seasons, is being recruited as a hybrid tight end/wide receiver.

“I don’t have a problem with it,” he said. “I feel like I can play both tight end and wide receiver. It’s something that I actually want to do.”

Baylor, Miami, Michigan, Oklahoma and Washington also have offered Johnson. Arizona and Texas A&M are close.

Johnson has already visited Baylor, Miami, Northwestern, Oklahoma, SMU and TCU. He hopes to see several more schools in the future, plus get back to Notre Dame.

“No one really has my attention,” he said. “I’m looking at all schools on an even standpoint. It doesn’t matter to me where I go just as long as I get a good education and play football.”


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